Well hi there, its been a while! I’m really delighted to welcome Lyndsay to share a story this week for On Being Childfree. Whilst I had big ambitions to keep both this and On Living With Illness running on a weekly basis, its been more challenging over the past year since people have been dealing with more pressing issues than engaging with blog posts. However, the series will always remain for people to read and continue to share their stories. Lyndsay touches on the effects of the pandemic as she shares why for her, choosing a life without children has always been the right path. As always, I’m so grateful for everyone’s commitment because it is such a personal subject to open up about. Please do read, leave a comment and share as much as you can, I’m really willing this to grow and grow so that we can help as many people as possible who may be going through something similar.
I’ve also started to build a resource list, for those of you who are either childfree by circumstance or childfree by choice. A combination of blogs, communities, individuals who are doing wonderful things in this space. Please do let me know if there are resources you use I can add.
I Am : Lyndsay, 33
Home Is: Hampshire
I Do: Commercial manager and freelance writer
I love Sunday mornings, they are filled with coffee, lazing around in my pyjamas for longer than I should, followed by whatever I choose to do with my day (which is not a whole lot at the moment, thanks to the Pandemic).
For as long as I can remember I have not wanted to have children. Even as a child I was far more interested in Barbie and her dreamhouse than I was in playing mums and dads. I would like to say that I made my decision to remain child free based on moral reasons, like the world being overpopulated or lessening my footprint on the environment. It was nothing like that, but if I’m honest I think it stems from two things. One: I have a deep-seated dislike at the thought of being pregnant and two: I never want to be a single parent.
When I was diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) in my early 20s, I was actually not that bothered. What bothered me were the other side effects, easy weight gain, acne, and mood imbalances. Thanks to being put on the pill most of those side effects went away or were more manageable.
What I remember really clearly is the doctors face when I was not bothered at all by my likely infertility. When I explained that I was not bothered about having children, I was told in no uncertain terms that not only would I change my mind, but that I should start thinking about having children before I was thirty otherwise, I would probably need IVF.
I am now 33, focused on building my career as a writer and still don’t want children, so I feel this is now very unlikely to change. The other main thing missing from my life that most people want in order to have kids, is a partner. My last long-term relationship ended a coupled of years ago and due to the pandemic, I have not really had the opportunity to meet anyone else. I entered the pandemic in my early 30s and by the time this is all over I will be in my mid-30s.
Even if I did a 360 and decided that I wanted children, by the time I actually meet someone and we spend some time enjoying our relationship before thinking about children, I would be in my late 30s. This is definitely the red zone for someone with PCOS.
Luckily, I have never experienced the longing for a child. That feeling that women describe deep down inside when they look at babies and children? Never ever had it. I do get the warm and fuzzies when I look at dogs and cats though, and I am very lucky to be a proud owner of a spectacularly petulant Birman named Gryff (short for Gryffindor).
Over time, I got very used to being told I would change my mind on the child front when I was in my late teens and 20’s. It’s frustrating when everyone around you seems to think they know your mind better than you do. I expected when I got to my 30s that people might actually accept that I was very ok with my choice not to have children, boy was I wrong.
Bearing in mind that I am not currently in a stable relationship in order to bring a child into the world, people still feel they have the right to involve themselves in my decision. Instead of you will change your mind when you are older, it’s now oh you have plenty of time. Don’t worry about it (oh don’t you worry, I’m not).
I can’t tell you how many times I get asked if I’m afraid of who will look after me in my old age if I am lacking on the children front. Honestly, like having kids guarantees you a nursemaid in old age. I am also not worried about not passing on all my knowledge to the next generation. I want to reach people through my writing, so as far as I am concerned, I don’t need to be related by blood to someone in order to have a positive impact on the generation after me.
Even though it is a sure way to bring the conversation to an abrupt close, I very rarely use the ‘I can’t have children’ excuse, because while my chances of having children naturally are diminished, I am not technically infertile, so do not like detracting from the many women out there who unfortunately are.
I do know most of the comments from those who know me are well meaning. I am a warm, caring person who loves to do things for others and I actively enjoy spending time with my friends and their children. So, I know this doesn’t always make sense to people that I would not want to channel my need to care for someone into a child.
The answer is that while I enjoy being selfless with my time, I also enjoy being selfish. I love picking up and going wherever I fancy at the drop of a hat, getting so lost in a novel that I don’t move all day or deciding to lie in for hours on a Sunday. Don’t even get me started on sleeping through the night undisturbed.
Being a mother has got to be one of the hardest jobs in the world, and I am constantly in awe of the mothers I know and how much of themselves they pour into raising their children. But I know that need to always be living every moment for someone else, the lack of time to care for yourself properly and the endless daily routine that comes with parenting, would make me profoundly unhappy.
Having the time to be creative rules a large part of my life and scheduling every minute of my day would drive me nuts. Because of this, I know I would resent any child that sucked all of my free time away and that’s not fair to myself nor the child. While I think if I were a parent, I would do my best to be a good one, I also feel that I would rather regret not having children, than regret having them. Children do not have a return policy and once you are in that club, you are in for life.
Some people have also assumed that because I would like to remain child free, I don’t want to get married. Wrong. I would love to share my life with a partner, build a home together and get married. I just don’t need the pitter patter of tiny feet that usually follows (unless they are of the dog or cat variety).
In my last relationship we didn’t really discuss the idea of having children properly (probably a sign that things were not going to work out). However, I remember a friend asking me if I would have one for my partner if he decided he wanted one. Even now, knowing how much I loved him, I know that pushing myself into having a child to make him happy, would have ultimately led to my unhappiness. Why should I give in to having children, any more than him not having them if he wanted them?
Dating is a minefield even when you are not a societal abnormality, let alone when you don’t fit the marriage and babies norm. When I was in my 20s, I used to hear my male friends moan about the “baby crazy” women they would meet that just wanted to get married and start having kids. Based on this, I thought that finding a man that wasn’t that bothered about having kids would not be all that difficult. Cue all the “baby crazy” men in their 30s. it seems like just about every dating profile that I see at the moment has “want to settle down, get married and have kids” on it.
I decided the way forward was to be open and honest on my profile about not wanting kids. I have had people match with me to just tell me my life will mean nothing unless I leave children behind, all the way to asking if I was really really sure I didn’t want children. This just adds to the many reasons I hate online dating and long for the days that meeting someone in a natural social situation returns. Unfortunately, this is not the place we are currently in.
Maybe I am a bit different from some in the child free gang because I would have no issue dating someone who already has children. I do like children and just because I have no desire to be biologically linked to one, it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want to be emotionally linked.
If I put the no children filter on, on my dating app I have about 20 potential matches within a thirty-mile radius. Now, not all these guys are my type, just as I am sure I am not theirs, but the numbers game that you need in order to make online dating work, is definitely not in the favour of those who want to be child free.
Am I afraid my choice will affect my chance to meet someone? A little. But I think remaining single and fulfilling my own life is a better decision instead of being in a relationship and having a child in order to stave off the fear of ending up alone. Children should be had because they are desired and wanted by the people that have them, not because they are a check box on a societal norms sheet.
So there it is, my story. I am a single 33 year old about to embark on doing my masters in English literature alongside working full time, probably a bit too obsessed with books and coffee and happy to be one of the voices normalising the choice not to have children of my own.
Thank you so so much to Lyndsay for sharing her honest story as a guest poster and sharing her thoughts and views in this piece. As I’ve stressed from the very beginning, this is a warm, empathic platform for people to share their stories, hopes, dreams, fears. Please do read Lyndsay’s story and leave a comment if you’d like to and share this series if you know anyone it could help. Together we are making changes.